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04 May 2021 ------

McLaren Shadow deals first defeat to BMW

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A tense affair saw plenty of action at the top of Group B!

BMW has been the dominant force in Group B this season, winning all three of their matches in Season 2 so far.

But they'll have to be at their very best as they take on series newcomers McLaren Shadow in this Round 4 contest, and their sim racing superstar James Baldwin.

BMW's Kevin Siggy is certainly no slouch, either. So who'll come out on top in this fascinating encounter?

Mugello Match Up

BMW Sim Racing Team: Michael Romanidis, Kevin Siggy, Alen Terzic

McLaren Shadow: James Baldwin, Isaac Gillissen, Elvin Smith

We started out at Mugello - one of the most-picked tracks of the series - as these two teams began the first relay race of the day.

Baldwin started out on pole ahead of BMW's Michael Romanidis, with the Greek struggling to match the McLaren's fast getaway. In his desperation to catch up, Romanidis seemed to get it all wrong on the exit of Luco - turn 2 - sending his car careening off track and into the barrier. This costly error gave Baldwin a massive head start and by the end of Lap 2, the British team had a five-second advantage.

Romanidis headed into the pits with his tail between his legs while Baldwin stayed out to complete another lap. BMW passed the baton over to Siggy as they looked to close the gap, but McLaren was still well ahead on Lap 3 when Isaac Gillissen swapped places with Baldwin.

Despite pushing his car to the limit, Siggy could do very little to catch up to the McLaren as the two teams entered the final lap. Gillissen was replaced by Elvin Smith while Siggy made way for Alen Terzic, and it was plain sailing for Smith as he crossed the line and claimed the first point of the day for McLaren.

Brilliant Baldwin

Determined to put the relay race error behind them, BMW was on pole for the team race... but it was Baldwin in the McLaren who once again got the best getaway!

The British ace lead the pack into the first corner with Siggy and Gillissen battling it out for 2nd place just behind him. With overtaking opportunities few and far between at the Mugello circuit, it would take all of Siggy's skill and racecraft to pass Baldwin here.

By Lap 3, less than a second separated the front two, but Siggy was struggling to find a way past the McLaren frontman.

It was not to be as Baldwin came through to win the team race, with Siggy finishing in 2nd. Further back, Gillissen's controlled race guaranteed him 3rd place and ensured McLaren scored their second point of the day.

Silverstone Shadow

It's been all about Baldwin in the Baldwin/Siggy match up so far, but could the Slovenian and BMW level the score over the next two races?

The two drivers went head-to-head in the opening relay race in Silverstone, with Siggy taking the lead into Lap 1. They flamboyantly battled for track position as they went side-by-side into Brooklands and then Luffield, and inevitably came to blows on the exit of the famous Becketts corner. Touching wheels, Siggy went over the grass, skidded across the track and into the gravel trap on the outside of the bend.

Baldwin, now in front, stayed out to take Lap 2 for McLaren, while Siggy dived into the pits to be replaced by Romanidis. And by Lap 3, with Gillissen driving for McLaren now, there was over five seconds splitting the two teams on track.

Smith took the final lap for McLaren ahead of Terzic, who, once again, could do nothing to catch up for BMW. McLaren, much like in Mugello, came away as worthy winners. After the race, both Siggy and Baldwin took time penalties for their Lap 1 incident, but it did nothing to change the final result.

BMW Blow

McLaren was looking to complete their rout over BMW with a win in the Silverstone team race. Baldwin, so dominant throughout this round, started out on pole ahead of Siggy, and the British driver unsurprisingly stormed off the line into the lead.

All eyes were on Gillissen further back, as the Dutchman rounded the hesitant Siggy to challenge for 2nd place. But some smart teamwork between Siggy and Romanidis blocked the overtake attempt, and the McLaren driver promptly dropped down to 4th.

Baldwin had a commanding lead over the rest of the field by Lap 2, while Romanidis, looking comfortable in 3rd place, appeared to lose grip on the exit of Becketts. This allowed Gillissen to move back into 3rd place.

It was follow the leader into the final two laps, BMW, once again letting the race win slip through their fingers simply through Baldwin's superior race start. As he rounded the final corner and crossed the line, it was all smiles from Baldwin and his teammates as they celebrated an incredible 4-0 win!

BMW, who many see as the R-League's title favourites at this stage, will need to regroup after this costly defeat. They stay top of the Group B table, but now McLaren is just a single point behind them in 2nd place.

Plenty of other teams across the series will take interest in this result, too. BMW's dramatic collapse, coupled with McLaren's assured display, will certainly raise some eyebrows!

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